How to choose exhibition stand space – A 7-point checklist

When you’re thinking about booking exhibition stand space the organisers will usually send you a floor plan. Each space will be numbered to help you choose where you want to be. This is a not a decision to be taken lightly. Selecting the right area can make all the difference, so we’ve put together a 7-point checklist to help you choose exhibition stand space.

1 Your maximum budget

Event organisers will put a premium on the best spaces so those organisations on a limited budget will have a more limited range of options. Prices will often go down as you get closer to the event but you’ll have a limited choice of the least popular spaces.

2 How much space you need

If you already have an exhibition display you want to use at this event you’ll obviously want a space that can accommodate it. Most floor plans will indicate the area available for each space but double check to avoid any last minute hitches. And don’t forget to think about ceiling height as well as length and breadth.

Perhaps less obviously, be careful about selecting an exhibition stand space that is so large your displays will seem to be lost in the wilderness.

Large scale exhibition displays for pharmaceutical companies, car manufacturers and the like tend to be custom built for the event. Even if they reuse elements such as plasma screens or graphic displays the stand will be designed to make maximum impact the best use of the space available.

Consider too, any breakout areas you need, such as a confidential meeting space for one-to-one consultations.

3 Maximise interaction points

The whole point of attending an exhibition is to interact with visitors. So it pays to maximise the space you have available to interact with people walking by. Ideally you’d want a standalone space offering you 360 degree access to visitors and naturally these tend to be the most expensive options.

If your budget is more modest you might have to settle for a space with fewer open sides, with the worst case scenario being a closed sided booth that offers just one potential interaction point.

4 High traffic areas and long dwell times

Organisers will helpfully indicate the event entrance and exit points, refreshment areas, toilets and conference rooms on the floor plan. Many will also tell you the areas where, in their experience, traffic will be high.

This is useful data, but you should also use your own judgement here – you might spot patterns, problems and opportunities others could miss.

Take the entrance area for instance. Intuitively it makes sense to be the first stand people see when they walk into the main exhibition space. But if you think about the last event you attended as a delegate you might have spent that time in the entrance area browsing through the exhibition guide, fumbling to get your badge on or looking for the nearest loo.

The same goes for stands near conference rooms. You’re sure to get a lot of traffic but people will often be rushing to hear the next talk or heading out to the refreshment area.

In fact, a stand near the refreshment area can be a good choice particularly if you have an eye catching display or demonstration that might entice them over once they’ve finished their tea. But do make sure that you won’t be crowded out by the overflow from the refreshment area. Stands near the loos are recommended by some experts; that one probably depends on the individual venue!

Obstructions and pinch points

Most floor plans will include an indication of any obstacles such as pillars or banners that could get in the way of your display.

It’s also worth checking for any pinch points where queues can form. This might seem superficially attractive but at best anyone here will be trying to find a way through the crowds and at worst they may get very irritated with anyone who gets in their way.

6 Competitor and complementary stands

If you’ve ever noticed how many car dealerships congregate in the same area of town, you’ll probably understand the logic of locating close to one of your competitors at an exhibition. This can work really well if you’re a small start up competitor. Allow a big name to attract the crowd and your stand will no doubt get a share of their interest.

If you’re as well established as your competitor, however, you won’t want a significantly smaller or obviously cheaper stand next door. It makes an unflattering comparison all too easy.

How will you know where your competitors are located? Some organisers will tell you or mark it on the floor plan. Some firms will habitually book the same space again and again because they are offered first refusal so it’s worth checking previous guides if you can lay your hands on them.

One final thought here. There may be value in finding out where an exhibitor with an offer that is complementary to your own will be located. If, for instance, you offer training in how to use logistics software you might position your stand near one of the major vendors.

It could even be worth linking up in advance and jointly booking a larger space that can be co-branded if the organisers allow it.  Or book two spaces together and ask for a discount.

Do you need to access any special facilities or resources?

Almost all events can offer electricity supply and Wi-Fi throughout their exhibition areas but if you need a water supply, ventilation or facilities for staff or stand visitors with disabilities, for instance, it’s worth checking with the organisers to see if there are any limitations or restrictions.

Once you’ve selected your exhibition stand space using these criteria and your own judgement you’ll want to agree the price and make sure you have a display that attracts attention and maximises your impact. If you need help with your stand design and build or reliably getting your equipment and collateral to the event, please get in touch.